SALISBURY, MARYLAND – Beginning Tuesday, ten local student-athletes will showcase their skills on one of the biggest stages while also competing for a national championship. As part of the 16U Crush Fastpitch travel softball team, Shaeleigh Moore of Greenup County High School, Megan Bazler of Clay High School, Nataya Richards of Portsmouth West High School, Hailee Corona of Wheelersburg High School, Haidyn Wamsley of Northwest High School, Sierra Sommerville of River Valley High School, Emma Bellaw of Waverly High School, Rylee Harmon of Dawson Bryant High School, Sydney McDermott of Portsmouth West High School, and Kyndell Lloyd of Peebles High School will be competing in the USSSA East National Championship.
“The team is excited to compete in Maryland,” said head coach Kane Bazler. “This is their opportunity to shine in front of a larger group of teams. We qualified earlier in the season and have worked hard to get better each weekend. The girls have fun, but are competitors when it’s time to play.”
So far this summer, Bazler’s Crush group has complied a 27-21-3 record while competing against the best the state of Ohio and the entire country have to offer for their age group. First place finishes in the Crush’In Cancer Tournament and USSSA Slugfest have helped bolster their record. This experience of playing over fifty games during the summer time can only help come high school season time next spring and is also a major selling point for all athletes who are interested in bettering their craft.
“Playing travel softball can get a girl another 60-75 games outside of high school,” Bazler said. “These games are usually played against other top level talent not only in Ohio but other surrounding states. It only continues to keep the girls prepared for high school ball and hopefully beyond high school.”
Of course, being located in a talent rich area for softball, as well as other sports, has its benefits for a travel team like Crush. Historically great softball programs such as Clay, Wheelersburg, and Portsmouth West have helped bolster the roster of Crush this summer.
“Southern Ohio is loaded with talented softball players, whether high school age or younger girls competing at the middle school level,” Bazler said. “We’re fortunate enough to have quite a few girls who have been named All conference and All district on their high school teams. This area has some really strong talent now and will have in the next several years playing high school ball, and several of those girls that represent their schools play with organizations that play all summer and fall.”
One of the most important factors for Bazler to see from his girls Tuesday when play begins is the toughness and unwillingness to quit they’ve played with all summer long. Crush will be competing in the 16U Division at next week’s tournament despite having an all U15 Team (Eight 15 year olds and two 14 year olds), a testament to that same toughness and ability to play up to other teams they’ve shown this summer.
“It’s how they have competed thus far this season in their games,” Bazler said. “Being a younger team in our division, we not only have won a lot of games, but the games we have lost have been close for the most part which shows the girls are competing with older teams. Half of the team’s losses have been less than two runs. This shows us that the team is always in a game with a chance to get the win. These girls never quit and are always fighting.”
From Portsmouth, Salisbury, Maryland, the location of next week’s USSSA East National Championship is 539 miles or an eight hour fifty four minute drive, assuming the driver is obeying all traffic laws to a tee. Knowing that, Bazler has instilled in his team that if they’re going to go all that way to compete for a national championship, they’re going to go into it with the mindset that they might as well win it.
“We always go out with the mindset that we are coming away with the win,” Bazler said. “Every game, every tournament. Going out, playing hard and fighting till the last out is all we can ask. If the girls do that, the coaches, fans and players will know they gave it their all.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved